tv Charlie Rose PBS June 6, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
. >> welcome to the program. tonight a look at the changes in president obama's foreign policy team, with david ignatius of the washington post and les gelb of the daily beast, former president of the council on foreign relations. >> this ms. rice is very close personally to the president. it is almost like his kid sister was being appointed national security advisor, i almost think when i see her, he is so voluble, so direct and frank that she, that he is saying the things that barack obama would say if he was less reticent man, if he was more open and more of an extrovert, so i think it is going to be useful to have somebody who really knows the president's mind and can speak for him, both in the. >> the interpreter: agency process and to the extent other world leaders, i still think
susan rice is more of a policy intellectual than tom don lon was. >> we continue with. >> who considers the president's reelection campaign in a new book called the center holds, obama and his enemies. >> and just a little bit on the political point because i think it is relevant, i think of him as kind of missing the schmooze gene and is so for him, the neediness of other politicians and ceos and a lot of the people he deals with is an abstraction, he knows that he needs to be stroking and playing golf with them or whatever, but as pete rausch said he doesn't care whether he gets a letter from the president or somebody important so he doesn't understand why other people -- >> right. so with his view of himself is taking the long view. >> we conclude this evening with cuba gooding, jr., he is making
his broadway debut in the trip to bountifully. >> we did a month of rehearsals before we did our first preview, so you are in there and talking the lines and working it out in the rehearsal hall, so we are, everybody is wearing whatever we wore that day to rehearsal, then you do that transition, this emotional transition to the theatre, you step in the theatre for the first time and you look out and see all of the empty red seats and you kind of have to reground yourself and put the actual costume you will be wearing for seven, eight months on, and then you look over at your co-star and then after you get over the trauma of that experience and realizing that this is now the new reality of in the only this character but this story, you have to fight all of the things that you thought you knew about the character and kind of reground them in this new existence. >> david ignatius, les, jonathan
rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with the major shakeup in president obama's foreign policy team. earlier today the president announced tom donelan his national security advisor would be resigning and he will be replaced by susan rice, the u.s. am bass kor ambassador to united nations she withdrew her candidacy to secretary of state in response to the criticism to the benghazi attack, nominated to take her place at the united nations samantha powell a pulitzer winning author. >> here is what the president said about each of them. >> has been with me every step of the way and the american people are, owe you enormous gratitude, you restored our nation's prestige and standing in the world, you have positioned us well to continue
to lead in the years ahead, i think that tom donelan has been one of the most effective national security advisors our country has ever had and he has done so without a lot of fanfare and a lot of fuss. so tom, on behalf of us all, thank you for your extraordinary service. >> as our ambassador to the u.n., susan has been a powerful advocate for our interests, diplomacy in new york and helped to put in place tough sanctions on iran and north korea, she has defended israel, she has stood up for innocent civilians from libya, she supported an independent sudan and raised her voice for human rights, including women's rights, put simply, susan exemplifies the finest traditions of u.s. diplomacy and leadership so thank you for taking on this next assignment, samantha first came to work for me in 2005, shortly after i became a united states senator as one of our
country's leading journalists, i think she won the pulitzer prize at the age of 15 or 16, one of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy showed us the international community has a moral interest in. >> rose: joining us from washington, d.c. is david ignatius of the washington post, with me in new york, les gelb, president of, president emeritus on the counsel of foreign relations which spoke in the daily beast, hats off to tom donelan, he may have made mistakes but he kept us safe from harm and he goes on to talk about it, david, what happened? why did these decisions come down and why did they come down today? >> the today question is a mystery to me, charlie, we may know know in the next few days. this change has been
contemplated at least since the election. there have been rumors, rumblings in washington that donelan was leaving for sure when susan rice didn't get the state department job, it was a matter of time when she would take national security advisor's job, i think there are personal reasons that tom donelan, who has worked himself almost to his exhaustion would be happy to leave now. and you can just see from susan rice's enthusiasm today in the rose garden as she accepted the president's nomination how eager she is for this new challenge. the simple way i describe what has happened is that one of the best, quiet process managers that we have seen in this job that requires great attention to bureaucratic detail is leaving. tom donelan has not been the most effective communicator,
strategist, emissary, other things that other national security advisors have done but he has been good at the process part. he is being replaced by one of the more personable people. you look at susan rice, she is young, african-american, very articulate, passionate in private and very profane and funny, so you couldn't have a more of a personality change, gray irish man, man of the process being replaced by this somewhat flamboyant and perhaps characteristic, charismatic susan right. >> so i am still wondering this question, did this change happen because the president wanted to put susan rice he likes so much in this job and felt she had gotten screwed by the benghazi situation or was it some element that he was unhappy with tom donelan for some reason? >> there is no doubt in my mind he wanted to put susan rice in the national security advisor
job at some point. >> rose: right. a. surprise was that he did itn. and that he did it .. just a few days before the summit meeting with the chinese leader, which tom donelan had serve as point man. >> rose: right. >> so. >> rose: more than that he was a point man on china period. >> he was a point man on china period but he set up the summit too. so right on the eve of that summit really was kind of odd. it was prefigured in a way by a piece of, a piece in foreign policy magazine a couple of weeks ago by jim mann where there were a few quotes in there from the new chief of staff who had been tom donelan's deputy, where he sort of damned top by saying praise, saying he performed value to the foreign policy and got along as well as
two irish men could get along. and as soon as you saw that from the new chief of staff, you knew that something was going to happen. but it is a surprise as of now. >> rose: so when you look at what this means for foreign policy, does susan rice bring different skills that will impact on presidential decisions? >> yes. and that is what i have tried to think about, talked to people about today, susan rice, first of all is very close personally to the president. it is almost like his kid sister was being appointed marble security advisor. i almost think when i see her, she is so voluble, so direct and frank that she is saying the things that barack obama would say if he was less reticent man, if he was more open and more of an extrovert so i think it is going to be useful to have
somebody who really knows the president's mind and can speak for him, both in th the enter agency process and to some extent other world leaders. i still think susan rice is more of a policy intellectual than tom donelan was. tom was a great process man. he wanted to think strategically, the president said to him today he was both a strategist and tactician but really the latter, the tactical side that i think the world saw. susan rice has a chance to channel the strategic side of barack obama in these remaining, remaining three years, barack obama has a systematic critique of how america's world in this changing world should, how we should play our hahn, he hasn't been able to articulate it very well except a few speeches. maybe susan can help him do that. >> rose: when uh i hear you say that it seems to me he believes he needed susan rice
not because he liked her, not because he admired her or part of his team since 2008 and earlier as a foreign policy advisor but because she was on the same page as he was and she would help him get things done that he wanted to do or help him hone his instincts more than tom donelan. >> well, i do think that, i think there is a way in which she channels the president's personality and intellect, an area to pay close attention to is syria. the president had trouble making up his mind what he wants to do, he sees all of the risks of every course of action, we are slowly getting into a process of arming and training the opposition. i think susan rice is going to be more forward leaning than tom donelan has been so tom is a very risk averse careful man and reinforces that part of the president, susan is more of a risk taker and i think on syria policy, for example, you will
see a little bit more lean, a little bit more managerness to take risk. >> i like the risk averse aspect of tom donelan and i think that is what we have to treasure in him as of now, because he didn't want to take any risks by having u.s. forces stay on in any must be in iraq and he pushed to get them out as quickly as possible. before the dell yiewj and deluge and keeping him there wouldn't have prevented us a deluge. >> he saved us an iraq and was a big factor and in afghanistan he pushed for quicker withdrawals, and i think sooner we turn over more responsibility to the afghans the better. tom donelan didn't go there too. on syria i know there are arguments all over the place for what we should do, but none of those arguments about on the levels, i set up safety zones, whatever, are convincing, none of them deal with what if these moves fail? what do we do next
and tom donelan held back u.s. action until we had a better idea that we knew what we were doing. >> rose: what would you add, david, other than process, were the skills of tom donelan? because you had a lot of calls from tom donelan's friends, i assume, you know. >> exactly right. they want you to know their side. >> sure. >> rose: go ahead, david. >> what i would say, charlie, is that much as les gelb said, tom donovan makes you appreciate the virtues of caution in a time of great uncertainty in foreign policy, where you really don't know how the arab up rise sings are, up risings are going to turn out, you need to be careful about making large bets on uncertain out comes and tom donovan was good at holding the president's hands and reassuring him, it is okay not to jump into all of these things, and to be
cautious about u.s. policy. i do think that the time for that caution is moving it into a different period now, when i travel overseas i increasingly hear people say, where is the united states? what is it that the united states sees as the path forward in the middle east i think that the real problem strategically has not been tom donelan, although he is not first and foremost a foreign strategy strategy gist, it has been the president himself and i think strategy is something that, in a way, foreign to the president's thinking, because strategy means you are going to have to make commitments. you are going to have to reduce your flexibility. you will have to reduce your options in order t to go in a certain direction and the president is always reluctant to do that. so it is hard to make strategy for a man who likes to make sure he can still do whatever he
wants. everything is on the table. and will susan rice be able to do this better? i don't think we have any evidence to that effect. what david said about her smarts and her experience is right. she is smart as hell. >> rose: this is what he said about her writing in the daily beast today. >> she often rushes to judgment and then digs in. she will have to learn to count to 100, i mean 1,000 before making up her mine and meanwhile listen to different views carefully. >> did i write that. >> yes.? a. uh-oh.>> rose: yes. >> yes, i did write it and i think susan is noted for her temper .., that people that work with her will tell you that, they tell me that for sure and she does need, especially in this job with a lot of people who aren't going to live with that, to count to 1,000 and she is going to have to be slower in making up her mind because she is going to be dealing with
these problems at a whole new level. being national security advisor of the united states of america is really a big deal. >> rose: okay. there is also this. the president's chief of staff, also was a principal foreign policy advisor. how do you put that in the mix, david? >> well, i think that is tricky. dennis mcdonough is the person closest in age, temperament, life experience, i would think, to obama among the white house people, the two of them just have a kind of mind meld. >> it was difficult to watch jim jones try to fill that space when it was really dennis was close to the president. i think susan, the hardest thing for her to do and the most important will be to play the role of honest broker in the interagency process that is the
national security council, she has to convince john kerry, secretary of state, chuck hagel, cia director, all of the principals that she will bring their views honestly and cleanly to the president, so if there is a good decision-making process, and i have watched, i know les gelb has watched, over decades, this can really get messed up. >> absolutely. >> if people feel that the national security advisor is putting his or now her thumb on the scale and affecting the balance. the president isn't getting a clean shake in terms of what his cabinet officers are saying. susan rice will have to be very careful about that. i especially worry that she and john kerry both am bush, eager to make a real mark in american foreign policy are going to be occupying the same policy space and that somehow they will have to get an agreement of rules of the road before they start or i think there is going to be a crackup.
>> rose: finally, finally put in samantha power that goes to the united nations, what difference does that make. at the united nations? >> yes. >> i don't think it will make much difference. this is a man that is very capable, she is often operated at very high diplomatic levels for some years now and knows how to do it awfully well and i think there will be a very smooth transition on that front. >> rose: thank you. les gelb, good to see you. >> you as always. >> rose: thank you, david. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: pleasure. we will be right back, stay with us. >> rose:. >> jonathan alter is here, he is an author and politician commenter on view, his new book the center holds obama as his enemies and gives a comprehensive account of the president's campaign and the challenges that persist into president obama's second term, i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. rose: all right. start with this. here is the guy. tell me what you have come to
understand about him. >> well, one of the great paradoxes of barack obama is that that he has been a spe spectacularly successful president, to win with more than 51 percent of the vote twice. you can't define success any better than that, and yet he doesn't really like politics. he doesn't really think of himself as a politician at heart. he thinks of himself as a president, somebody who is governing and puzzling through the issues and trying to get to the reasonable solution, as david plouffe said to me, he should have been president of scandinavia. >> rose: yes, i saw that. >> because he thinks people should, policy makers should deal with issues in an unemotional way and in a nonpolitical way if possible. well when he needed to get reelected in the same way he wants that ball to take that shot at the buzzer, to get the three-pointer, then he did what
it took politically to get reelected and he built the most sophisticated and largest political organization in american history, 2 million -- >> rose: governing an organization that does better. >> it is a good question, but they are different challenges. they really are. in a presidential campaign you can control the hedge much more. there are only two people, and whatever they say in a given day is news. or what obama said today isn't necessarily news unless the press decides it is but in a campaign it is always news and much more sharply focused and also the passion of the volunteers of the organization is much more intense during a presidential campaign, especially when the stakes were as big as they were in this game. >> rose: beyond the fact he doesn't really likes politician politics and doesn't consider himself a politician and is a cool character, tell me more about how you have come to understand him based on conversations, based on some sense of how he, how he views
himself. >> well, i think he is a very self aware individual, and just to elaborate a little bit on the political point because i think it is eaflt. i think of him missing the schmooze gene and so for him, the neediness of other politicians and ceos and a lot of the people he deals with is an abstraction. he knows that he needs to be stroking, and playing more golf with them or whatever, but as pete rausch one of his top aides says he doesn't care whether he gets a letter from a president or somebody important, so he doesn't understand why other people -- >> rose: he doesn't understand that. >> right. so his view of him elf is taking the long view, being persistent, even when things look bad for him as they kind of do right now and having a bad month, but to keep at it, and to, of course,
bend the moral arc a little bit at a time, he won't be able to do anything overnight so he is always trying to think, pretty far down the road and he wants, i think, most of all, right now to be remembered for something more than being the first african-american president. >> rose: what will he be remembered for? >> i think he will be remembered clearly for obamacare and one of the things that, with all of the frustration on the part of democrats where republicans are right now that people have forgotten is that obamacare is here and it is not going anywhere. that ship has said. he has the veto pen and he can repeal it as many times as they want in the house of representatives and have done so 30 times it is a fantasy, the ryan plan is a fantasy so the reason i call the book the center holds is that, you know, not just obamacare but he has defended the american social contract against an assault by the american right, so he
defended the progressive accomplishments of the 20th century which became centrist and supported by the broad middle of the country, things like medicare and social security, aid to education, all of these things that were challenged by movement conservatives and in some cases flashed, investments in the future, medical and scientific research so he sees himself as the guardian of that and that is a smalley conservative president and is protecting those achievements and also trying to prepare us for the challenges of the 21st century by most important educating the work force, so that he can compete in the global economy and trying to do something on climate change which he did not talk about enough during the campaign. >> rose: well, okay, talk about mistakes now he looks back at things which he made famous in a quote. >> i don't think it is a mistake. he didn't think it was politically right. >> rose: the interesting
thing about him is that he seems to have enormous curiosity to me. >> he does. >> rose: reaches out to reporters who he thinks knows something, whether about foreign policy or about domestic politics or something else, science and technology, he doesn't want to publicize those meetings and be cited for attribution, how many people i know come out of sessions with the president quoting a high source in the white house. >> i have done that. >> rose: you have done that yourself. >> >> but what is that like? does he talk or listen? >> it depends. he does a fair amount of talking, but he is interested in people i think who can tell him something new. so a report came out, somebody who had worked on his campaign said last year or the year before, obama doesn't like people. that is not true, and i think too many people think it is true. what he doesn't like are entitled donors who think because they have given him
money that somehow he needs to sit there and listen to everything they say even if they are not saying anything interesting. he doesn't like people who think just because they are politicians that he necessarily has to, you know, agree with them, even though he will try to a little bit. he likes people -- you can't put your finger on it, he likes people who staff his curiosity and really tell him something he didn't know and might be able to help him, especially now, break the logjam we have in our politics. >> rose: there are many things about him but what happens between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., what is going on there? what does he want to know? what is he looking for? how does he want to connect the dots? what does he want, who does he want to talk to? >> there are a couple of things. first of all, there is an interesting debate over whether he is using that time well, so bill clinton would take that
time to reach out, be on the phone, calling you probably, you know, calling a lot of people and making them feel, even if he was doing all the talking, that they just talked to the president and could tell their friends the next day i talk talked to the president last night. president obama doesn't do that enough and senators don't have to lake to slain to their constituents they haven't talked to the president in two years it makes them feel uncomfortable. he is leaving that tool in the tootoolbox what he is doing betn 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. with c-span and espn in the background is he is preparing rigorously for the next day, and he is -- maybe spending as some of his people said too much time on his ipad looking at what the critics are saying and having to restrain himself from responding, but a lot of it is preparation that many people have told me really impress them in a meeting the next day
because they would think he is not paying attention. >> rose: what is wrong with that? >> maybe he is not listening an then he says on page 16 of this memo explain to me what you mean in the third paragraph? and they realize he is very, very well briefed on the issues of importance to the presidency. he sees that as his job, and what he dislikes most in people is when he feels they are not doing their job, whether they are people leaking, because as with we know now he has no tolerance for and has been critical on this, but he is very impatient with people who are not prepared and not doing their job because he takes his job very seriously and he sees that not as the theatrics of the presidency as being central to his role. the reason that he lost that first debate, i have a whole chapter on this and he was 0 for six in debate prep, charlie, his people all knew he was going to blow the debate. is because he despises debates,
he doesn't think they have anything to do with being president, with the real work of being president. at one point in the debate prep they said, you know, 30 seconds on infrastructure, and he got really frustrated he says i need 30 minutes to talk about infrastructure. so the format of it he thought was pony, artificial, unrelated to the presidency, and he was a little bit above it and he conveyed that, he conveyed that that night as well, saw that, wished he was some place else, he even said at the outset of the debate to michelle, on our next anniversary we won't do it in front of 60 million people, the sub text of that was i don't want to be here and so he got his clock cleaned by romney who was good that night and then a pretty dramatic story i think of his being able to come back to win the election when a lot of people thought he wasn't going to. >> rose: some people say there is a visceral reaction among some republicans and some americans against him. what is that about? >> well, it is sometimes called
i have got a chapter called obama derange. syndrome .. and it is not all race, but i do think that among some of them i wouldn't even begin to say it is all or even most of the people who truly despise him, scratch a little bit on rush limbaugh and you actually go back and look at some of the kind of things he said over the years, there is unquestionably a racial dimension to some of it. there is a reaction against almost the exotic, you know, we have had not just a black president, we haven't had a president who's name ended in avowal, barack obama? we had 200 years of people with very different names in the office, so it was a bit of a shock to the system for certain americans, his arrival in office and they felt that they, you
know, all presidents -- >> unamerican? >> they did and you had people like john sununu are saying this kind of thing which was, to me, ironic, because they said, you know, you don't believe in american exceptionalism, they would say to obama, well, he is about the best illustration we have of what makes us an exceptional country. >> rose: i mean you get a sense that there was a bit, with respect to president clinton, is that they, part of it comes from the fact he beats the hell out of them. in different cases so good. i am sure there are cases of republicans who the democrats had a hard time, have a visceral reaction against them because they are so good and constantly beat them but you do get a sense of that, that his success in hive is too -- it is too -- >> it came very quickly.
>> rose: and too perfect. >> and legitimate criticism and i have experienced, his experience did hurt him in certain ways and yes in the first two years he put more points on the board legislatively than any president since lbj and you can quibble with the specifics of obamacare and other things, but before the mid terms he had a strong record, now since the mid terms it has been all politics, and he has been playing defense and he has faced a very obstructionist -- >> rose: what is the long-term effect of that? >> we don't know, i think next week we are going to get immigration reform which is a direct result of the story that i tell, what happened in the 2012 campaign. there is the first book out about 2012, but i wanted to take it to a level beyond just the normal campaign book, you know, what happened on september 17th. >> rose: you wanted to go where? >> i wanted to put it in proper
historical context and also to explain a lot of the back story not necessarily of which aide, aided which other aide or herman cain's sex hive or things that are not, sex life or things that are not historically important, but ayn blows -- he got 71 percent of the. >> that's why we are going to get immigration percent because he got 71 percent of latinos and republicans are scared they will get permanent minority status. >> rose: that was part of the campaign that you talked about that all of that -- >> let's tell people what that is, because it was secret through the whole campaign, so there was no reporting in 2012 about the cave which was a secret annex to is chicago headquarters where the analytic kids hung out,. >> rose: and what did they do? >> they were professional poker
players, child prodigies and organized these models that transformed american politics, so people kind of know generally obama had the first digital campaign of the 21st century. i wanted to explain how, i wanted to take people into the cave to show how they could build these tools so that when the canvassers were out on a block instead of going to all 25 houses on the block they would just go to the four where they knew, you know, somebody hadn't returned an absentee ballot or a baby-sitter, needed a baby-sitter on election day and it was much more sophisticated, friend to friend, facebook friend to facebook friend which was critical, critical on battleground states and these tools that are going to change politics forever he, so i got very interested in this kind of technology meets shoe leather in this campaign. >> rose: what intreases me is not that, although it is
interesting, what interests me most is the theory of the case, a sense of where america is and where america is going, and it seemed to separate the two campaigns. they understood, it seems to me, the ever evolution in in america, how america was becoming a different kind, not losing its sense of mission, but was different in its make-up, in its composition. >> not just demographically, with their coalition of women's, african americans and latinos, young people, but in a sense that the american dream was threatened and that they had to have a whole section about their struggling for months they struggled on message, and that it was as the president saidness and this line came from a woman in a focus group, she said one day, in a focus group this is a make or break moment for the
middle class, and obama picked up on that, he used it in every speech and, you know, he said and he connected on a level of people understanding that if you slash, say, student loans and people can't go to college and complete college, which too many are not doing now, this group, it is a kill never the global economy so if we want to have any hope of restoring the middle class to anywhere close to where it was in a period that created shared prosperity that we had to address these issues and austerity was not going to be the way to get there. slashing taxes more for the wealthy as romney proposed was not going to be the way to get there. so at one point, romney said, you know, they are talking class warfare and warren buffett said, it is class warfare, it is us the wealthy, essentially waging
war on everybody else, and we are winning, where romney, that victory in the last 20 years it would have been a route, so that was what was ron the line and obama was able to make, not white men but pretty much everybody else see that we had to at least try to look at this whole thing from the perspective of middle class, not just wealthy, maybe the job creators, maybe. >> rose: the relationships of bill clinton? >> interesting. well one of the most interesting things i found out about him he called mitt romney a week after the election and said that he had believed until hurricane sandy that romney was going to win, the a lot of people say well, i knew obama was going to win, that is bull, even bill clinton wasn't sure. now, they were quite confident in chicago because they knew they were crushing romney on the
ground, but clinton, he did obama a major favor at the convention because he explained obama better than obama explains obama. >> rose: what does that say? they, he has something obama doesn't have? >> it is great talent, and at one point, obama, you know, his friend marty nesbitt said he should be secretary of explaining stuff. >> rose: right. >> and so -- but obama is just not as good as clinton at explaining things, but also, for obama to give the speech that clinton gave at the convention, would have been explaining too much, it would have been trying to, being too defensive about his -- >> rose: what did he need? >> well, i think, in general, he opts too much for comfort and he needs more people who are, what used to be called big men or big
women, and he has had some in his government like hillary clinton, but, you know, he didn't react well to somebody like richard holbrook, on independent relationships so he ends up having people around him who he is comfortable with, and it is a small group, it is not any one person, no one person has all that much power, it is not that he has excessive power over policy things, he is his own secretary of state, his own chief of staff, you may argue that is not smart in management terms but, you know, the others kind of execute his wishes and it is very hard to be his chief of staff, it is a little bit like when you remember when princess diana, instead of prince charles, and camilla said the marriage got a little crowded with three, well the chief of staff and you have valerie jarrett and pete, and
david plouffe and you are bill daly? are you really chief of staff or ar are you kind of beig marginalized by this circle that goes pretty far back with the president? >> rose: the book is how the center holds, obama and his enemies, by jonathan alter, lots of people have talked about books that he has done, jonathan alter is, new teddy white says the chronicle, this gives a new perspective, this is about his earlier book, new perspective on the 44th president, what it is like to work in the white house. you continue that kind of reporting. thank you. >> thanks for the teddy white shoutout. >> rose: back in a moment, stay with us. >> rose: cuba gooding, jr. is here he won the oscar in 1997 for an unforgettable performance in cameron crow's jerry mcgwire's and makes his broadway debut in the classic the trip to bountifully he plays alongside a great company with sicily titan
and vanessa williams here is look at the play. .. >> .. you know what you look like standing there? >> who? >> my papa. >> what? >> look just like him. >> of course, i noticed as you grow older you look more and more like him. my papa was a good-looking man, honey. >> cuba gooding, jr. is also filming the butler by lee daniels, i am pleased to have him here a at this table for the very first time. thank you. >> charlie, i am here -- man, i am here!. i feel like i am the first black man on the moon right now. at the round table. >> oh, my gosh. >> rose: i am honored by your presence. >> thank you.
>> rose:. >> as my father said to me when i first did publicity for the first film and i was so excited he said, oh, i don't know what that is, i will dolls this show. i don't know that show but i know charlie rose. >> i said i am not doing charlie rose. and here we are, 2013. >> rose: is he still with us. >> yes. >> rose: that was a long time ago. tom hanks was here the other day and he said much the same thing. not the trip to bountifully but a lucky guy and he said it is so much faster now, so the question is, what happens between an original days of a play and months later when you have settled in and how is it different? >> discovery. every moment of the day discovery. we did a month of rehearsal before we did our first preview. >> rose: so. >> you are in there and talking through the lines and working on
the rehearsal hall, so you are working with the actresses and everybody, you know, is wearing whatever they wore that day to rehearsal. >> rose: right. >> then you do that transition, emotional transition to the theatre, you step on the theatre the first time and you look out and you see all of the empty red seats and you have to reground yourself and then put the actual costume you will be wearing for seven, eight months on and then you look over at your co-star and then after you get over the trauma of that experience and realizing that this is now the new reality of in the only this character but this story, you have to fight all of the things that you thought you knew about the character and kind of reground them in this new existence, so when you are on stage, all the information that you have been through with this character and this journey, each performance, each audience changes a fraction and again it
is just the discovery happens and you go on a film set and you bring all of your gifts and when the director influences it and then you lay down the impressions of that day, and then you come back a year later and you see how it is thrown together and everybody can judge it. here it happens every day, every day. >> rose: people say the film is a director's medium but theatre is an actor's medium. >> yes. because you have to manipulate the words and your performance based on the emergency that you are receiving from the audience. and the people will be moved by what they are experiencing in that moment of the play and this play is interesting because, funny thing, sicily tyson is so brilliant, during these rehearsals and after everybody got over the shock of working with an icon, she was funny but still sicily tyson and maybe she
was funny but we were just so taken aback by just being in her presence .. when we get on stage for the first preview and that audience reacted to the things we were doing, they laughed all the way through. >> rose: yes. >> and, you know, some of it was like, what are they laughing about? because we were just so, you know, obviously we were in each scene but we didn't recognize that she is hysterical, he is hysterical and has so much energy and she has more energy than any actress i have ever worked with. >> rose: and what a life. >> what a life. >> rose: what a life, yes. so when they came t to you to do this you said, where do i sign or -- >> absolutely, i absolutely did. they came to me and they said that the director and michael wilson, who i love to death and, they want to have a meeting with you and they would like you to read a couple of scenes. >> rose: right. >> and the agents said with hesitation, it is like, i read
the script and -- absolutely. and i walked in that room and we laughed and then we cried and then i walked out. and i knew that whatever i was going to do with this ¡up of people was going something that i would remember for the rest of my career. >> rose: but you know you had it because all they wanted you to do is read? >> i knew i had it. i knew i had it. i laid it down in that road. >> rose: and you put your things down. >> you know what i am saying? i put my thing down. i just new it was a thing. actually a funny story. when i got in my car and i was driving and still he emotional and my agent called and said what happened? and i go, what do you mean what happened? >> he said they have already called and offered it to you. >> so i knew it was a great, a great -- >> rose: can you remember what it was that happened that got -- >> the scene? >> it was the bountifully scene they had us read and a lot had
to do with home and parents-son, parent-child relationships and when that transition happens where the child becomes the parent, and has to look after .. you know, the adult and a child, in a child lick way but when the shift happens, and, you know, this person, she is up there in age, and her character is dealing with, why don't we get back to the bountifully and gets out of this cramped apartment and they finally makes it back there, and they think she might be crazy, she might have dementia but still very present and these two people, you know, a mother and son, reconnecting their values of home and it is a very emotional thing that happens a very healing thing that hps and he parents are getting thereupon as well and i just -- every time i do that
scene for some reason it just hits so close to home for me, you know,. >> rose: it is still relevant today. >> oh, so relevant. so many people have to downsize their living spaces because of the economy and whatever, and, you know, the fact that in-laws are moving in with their children and their husbands and wife situations and there is a lot of frustration there, and i think our play touches on a lot of these issues. >> rose: it is an all african-american cast. >> oh, i didn't know. i thought it would probably be -- >> rose: daughter hayley fontova. >> who was there every day and is there every day of the play throughout rehearsal and everything. >> rose: take a look at this. here it is. >> call the police. >> he is crazy. crazy. >> totally crazy. let me tell you that.
he is going to end up some place -- do you realize -- >> call the police. >> i am not going to call the police. >> you're not? >> no. well then -- >> rose: here is what -- first of all, your performance -- >> i don't read those. >> rose: i know. >> there is a useful energy to the 45-year-old that practically buzzes as makes his professional stage debut. >> wow. >> rose: what energy. but you have always had that? >> there is a sense of emergency in every performance i have ever seen that i have ever seen l is a sense of power. you know, power of energy. >> yeah. thank you.
well, i have always been an athletic guy, playing hockey and boxing all all of my life. >> rose: and also you would have been to broadway sooner except for the kids. >> that's exactly right. my wife and i have been together since high school, and. >> rose: high school? >> yes. she was -- and one of the things we realized -- >> rose: been there, seen it. >> oh, yeah, exactly. drama. drama class. sarah. we had made a packet that, pact, especially after jerry maguire, and the offers started coming in, i said we will make a deal never do more than three weeks without seeing each other. and at one point i had to take a private jet from germany all the way to hawaii and back to germany and -- >> rose: for a weekend. >> i was on the ground 48 hours, yeah. >> rose: to keep your promise. >> kept our promise. and when this opportunity came about, it was right at the time her and my oldest son spencer
were looking at colleges. >> rose: right. >> and i would be happy to say he has chosen one on the east coast. so we will have close houses in new york city. >> rose: so you might be -- >> yeah. >> rose: coming here? >> yeah, yeah. >> rose: you don't have to be in la to do movies. >> i was born here. i was born in the bronx. south bronx. yeah. you know, my mother, was on riverside drive, before that i believe it was the south view projects. but and she was born in la. so it is funny. >> rose: your wife. >> my wife was born in, will lao have us come together and create these three beautiful kids is a blessing. >> rose: let me take you back to jerry maguire. >> did you know what you had there when they wrapped? >> i knew when they said, you are going to be doing a read through, i mean, you doing the
movie with tom cruise. >> rose: yeah. >> i knew what we had, because i knew -- i was a how long fan of tom before i ever worked with him before, a few good men. >> rose: a fan of what? his acting? >> his presence on stang. >> rose: so cruise, and they said jerry maguire, cruise, you want to be in it? >> no, it was you want to hear the story. i will shorten it down as best i can. my agent calls me and says there is a read this afternoon with robin williams, where you would play a football athlete, now i had just auditioned and missed out on a role in a tony scott movie called the fan so i was already, i had shaved my head bald for this, i was actually going to play an agent in that one and i had a goatee and earrings in my ear and everything for it and didn't get the part so now i was going this saturday to do a press conference on a foreign press conference and my phone rings and she says there is a
5:00 p.m. read through at sony with robin williams for a new cameron crow movie, they want you to read. i was like but i have this press conference. >> and but i need the script. the script will be in the back of the limo. >> so went to the press conference and we got in the limo, i read the script, and as i am reading the scenes, you know, of course as a actor you are skipping your parts i knew this guy's energy, i knew what he was, he was this bigger of life. >> rose: you got there and you had it. >> i was out of my mind, and the funniest thing is, as i was waiting for robin williams to walk into the room and i never met him before and at the time there was a big tyson fight where he knocked the guy out in one round in vegas and robin williams sat across from me and everybody was sitting quiet and was about to give a speech and said did you see that fight last night. >> did i see it, he got knocked out! and i did it and that started the whole read through and at the end of it the whole show me the money thing i
literally jumped in my seat during the whole thing, it was insane and cameron crow pulled me aside and said, this read through is for sony, this is really for tom cruise, but we are trying to lock a deal in, we will let you they and from there the journey. >> rose: and changed your life. >> yes. >> rose: changed your life. >> yes. >> rose: so "the butler", lee daniels. >> yes. >> rose: have you made that yet? >> yes. we filmed that last summer, in new orleans, katrina, not katrina but -- >> rose: yes. >> but i know we had sandy, hurricane sandy and then the one in new orleans right before sandy, stopped our production for a month. >> rose: yes. >> and we had to start again and that's the real story. >> rose:. >> "the butler" is a presidential butler in the white house through eight presidents. >> rose: so he has seen them all. >> he has seen them all. >> rose: what a great story.
>> and i play one of the other butters will and oprah winfrey plays his wife. >> rose: i have heard about that. >> vanessa red graves is in it, jonathan cusack. >> rose: oprah is doing more acting. >> he is pheno phenomenal. >> rose: i have heard about this. extraordinary. thank you for coming. >> >> rose: it is a pleasure. >> thank you. >> rose: the bountiful at the. >> is at the theatre until september 1st, you have three months to go see it. thank you. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: thank you for joining us, see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org of state parks in the nation.
more than one and a half million acres protected within 278 parks. they are visited by more than 80 million people every year. parks that preserve the storied landscapes that define california. historic sites that commemorate the events that shaped the california dream. yosemite, the birthplace of the park idea, is also california's first state park. the story of california state parks is the story of preservation in america and the world. next on "california forever: episode one": yosemite, big trees, coast, mountains, and desert. the story of california state parks.